All individuals who are involved in producing any content for The Athletic NG are required to abide by the following Editorial Guidelines. The success of The Athletic NG is based on the editorial integrity and independence of our reporting. We are here to serve the readers and our commitment to them is that we will reach the highest standards of journalism.
The digital publishing world is moving quickly, so while these standards form the foundation of our company’s policies we expect that they will evolve over time. Exceptions to these guidelines will likely arise but the principles are basic, and blanketing these guidelines and their principles is the fundamental need for all of our work to be accurate, to be complete, and to be fair.
The failure to follow these editorial guidelines can result in disciplinary action, up to and including the termination of your relationship with The Athletic NG. These guidelines do not affect any other policies of The Athletic NG, including, but not limited to, our anti-discrimination and harassment and social media policies.
- Always identify yourself specifically as a representative of The Athletic NG
- When possible, take notes and/or record your conversations to assure accuracy as appropriate. This will be helpful if the subject questions the veracity of quotes and anecdotes post-publication. It is recommended that you keep your notes and information for at least two years.
- The subject of a recording should be made aware that they are being recorded, particularly outside of a public place. Ideally, memorialize that knowledge on the recording itself, by recording yourself saying something like “I’m recording, is that ok?” and obtaining a verbal confirmation from the subject (a nod is not audible). Laws vary regarding the recording of conversations without the consent of all parties. Consequently, you should seek and obtain the consent of the company’s chief content officer before making any recording without the consent of all parties.
- Be thoughtful about the way you communicate electronically, which can easily be forwarded or hacked. Work with the expectation that the contents may become public at some point. In addition, for correspondence that includes particularly sensitive information, it is recommended that you use a secure app. Check with the technology team for recommendations for a best-in-class app.
- Be careful about making any agreements with subjects of interviews, such as how the interview is conducted (re: via text or email instead of phone call or in-person). Any special circumstances or agreements such as these should be noted to the reader. In addition, we do not allow subjects or sources to view the story before it’s published or allow the subject to make changes.
- Reporters are expected to comply with all generally-applicable laws. You are not permitted to trespass on private property, harass your subjects, destroy property, or otherwise engage in illegal behavior in pursuit of a story.
Sourcing of Information
- The use of anonymous sources is often necessary to gather information. When a person asks for anonymity the reporter should understand the reasons for such consideration. When possible, reporter and editor should discuss any promise of anonymity before it is made, or before the reporting begins on a story that may result in such a commitment. Anonymous sourcing should be used as sparingly as possible and when providing vital information – not just spin, speculation, color or embellishment. We endeavor to describe anonymous sources as specifically as possible, without violating the terms of anonymity, and give a reason that anonymity is required.
- Our reporters must disclose the identity of any anonymous source to their editor and discuss whether to use their quotes. There is an additional level of scrutiny that should be placed on stories in which anonymous sourcing is being used. Considerations include: How does the source know the information? Is it firsthand or secondhand? What is their motivation for sharing the information? Could the source be mistaken, and how does the information square with other reporting elements? How can we corroborate the information, ideally with multiple sources? Where a story relies on anonymous sources to report material, negative information about the subject, you must review the matter with the company’s chief content officer.
- These considerations also apply when considering whether to publish news or aggregate information based on the reporting of other outlets. When considering whether to pick up information reported by other organizations, we should take into account whether those facts were anonymously sourced when weighing their veracity. We pick up material, especially anonymously sourced material, only if absolutely necessary after conversations with top editors and our own pursuit of the news. We cannot take such information at face value. Specifically, information from other outlets needs to be confirmed through our own reporting before being published unless the editors determine that the organization and writer breaking the news is reliable; in that case, the information should be attributed to that source(s). (Rules for attribution are spelled out in the section below.) Information from other outlets should not be published on our platform if the source is determined to be unreliable.
- The quality of our sources is of utmost importance. It is acceptable in some circumstances to use one source who has first-hand knowledge of a situation and has been reliable in the past. Using two sources who are offering second-hand information is not acceptable.
- Know the difference between “off the record”, “not for attribution” and “for background.” For many people it can mean many different things. And be prudent in how and when you use these applications. Here are the most common definitions for those terms:
- Off the record: The information provided is not for publication. However, the information you are provided can be used without attribution to verify its veracity with another source. When accepting “off the record” information, it is a good idea to tell your source that you may report it (without attribution to your source) if obtained elsewhere.
- Not for attribution: The comments may be quoted directly, and the source may only be identified in general terms. This is the equivalent of a promise of anonymity, and is subject to all of the same conditions.
- For background: the information provided by a source cannot be quoted directly, and the source cannot be named directly. Here too, your source should be told that the information may ultimately be reported if obtained elsewhere.
In summary, remember that it is better to be last and right than first and wrong.
When reporting and writing stories we do not have an agenda and it is important that our readers understand that. If our readers question our adherence to that basic tenet of journalism, our credibility will be at stake. To maintain the highest form of authority we should avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest and reveal those sources or affiliations that may put into question our ability to be credible. For instance, writers who have collaborated with a source—athlete, GM, team official or broadcaster—on a book should not report on that subject going forward. In addition, written permission from editorial leadership is needed to pursue a project of that nature.
It should go without saying that you cannot accept travel, accommodations, gifts or money if there is any risk that it is intended to influence your work, or that it will create such a perception. Gifts or donations may be accepted so long as there is no quid pro quo.
Payment of Source
We do not pay sources for their information.
The Athletic NG requires that notes and recordings of conversations be preserved for a reasonable period of time.
Journalists should not turn over newsgathering materials unless legally compelled to do so. At no time may a staff member turn over notes, interviews documents or other working materials to any third party, including agents, producers, studios or outside production agencies, or share those materials with them unless approved by The Athletic NG or in the event you are legally compelled to do so. Staff members are advised that in such circumstances, The Athletic NG’s legal department will provide assistance (including following your departure from the Company).
If you are writing a story that is critical of people, companies or organizations you should give that party a chance to answer any charges or allegations, including an opportunity to check records, if relevant.
- If you are using information that was published originally by sources outside of The Athletic NG, make that clear and, when appropriate, link directly to that source. Also, when using information sourced from The Athletic NG, sublink to the original story.
- Keep in mind that crediting the original source or author does not allow you to use the author’s original expression. Giving credit to the original source does not permit unconsented use of copyrighted content. Use your own words, but if you absolutely need to quote an underlying work, keep it to the absolute minimum necessary to convey substance, put the material in quotes, and try to consult with the company’s chief content officer before publication.
- Plagiarism: This is the double sin of taking someone else’s protected expression and not even attributing. Don’t do it.
Transparency with our audience is key to gaining and keeping trust. Please follow these guidelines for how to handle specific errors in fact or judgment that are published on The Athletic NG.
- If grievous errors or offensive content appear in our stories we need to fix expeditiously while also adding an editor’s note at the top of the article to acknowledge the changes. This should be done after consulting with editorial leadership.
- If errors that impact the relevancy of a piece appear in our stories we need to fix expeditiously while also adding a note at the top of the article to acknowledge the changes. This should be done after consulting with the appropriate managing editor and/or the Chief Content Officer.
- If typos or relatively inconsequential errors that do not materially change the meaning of a story appear in a published article we need to fix expeditiously. In cases in which readers point out those errors in the comments section, the story editor or writer should respond and acknowledge the mistake in the comments section.
How To Write A Correction
Do not repeat the error in the first sentence.
Every correction should give the correct and incorrect information. And that correct/incorrect information should be in a separate sentence at the end of the correction. It is A , not B .
Example: An earlier version of this article misstated the given name of the new president of the Lions. He is Nsidibe Akpan, not Alexis.
If the error was inserted during the editing process, add, Because of an editing error, at the beginning of the correction.
All corrections start like this:
An earlier version of this article…
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article…
An earlier version of the headline with this article…
Make sure the “earlier version” refers specifically to the thing you are correcting: the article, caption, headline, etc. It is ALWAYS “earlier version,” not “previous version” or any other variation.
We do not append or publish corrections concerning misspellings in bylines, reporting credits, picture credits and so on. Simply fix the error online. This applies to any type of credit line that might have been omitted. If you feel an exception needs to be made, check with someone from the enterprise team.
In those cases in which corrections are warranted because of inappropriate and/or offensive language, we do not repeat the unsuitable words as noted in the Basic Style. Instead, the editor’s note should contain a message along these lines: “The original version of this story used inappropriate and offensive language. The article has been updated and we apologize to our readers.”
Caption: what we call cutlines in corrections text
Chart: what we call graphics in corrections text
Given Name: what we call someone’s first name in corrections text
Surname: what we call someone’s last name in corrections text
Misidentified: the term used when what we called it also exists.
Example: An earlier version of this article misidentified the location of the Lions Stadium. It is in Eket, not Uyo.
Misstated: the term used when what we called it does not necessarily exist.
Example: An earlier version of this article misstated the location of a building. It was on College Road in Mbiatok Itam, not Ekritam Road.
Misattributed: the term used when a quotation (not a “quote”) or a fact is attributed to the wrong person.
Example: An earlier version of this article misattributed a quotation about Mbosowo Nsodobe. It was General Manager Emmanuel Dami — not Manager Edet Ekpenyong — who said, “He’s not ready for the major leagues.”
Omitted: when we had a fairly specific list but left someone or something off. The correction usually says something like, An earlier version of this article omitted one of the players who has hit more than 50 home runs in a season. Alexis Nsidibe also accomplished that feat.
Described incorrectly: another way of saying we said something wrong.
Referred incorrectly: A catch-all phrase we try not to overuse. It’s best reserved for corrections of things that are generically wrong and don’t fit into other examples.
In name errors, generally use “misspelled” for your run-of-the mill typo, like transposed letters or homonyms (He is Udom Akpan, not Udom). Some desks suggest using “misstated” instead of misspelled if the mistake changes the pronunciation. Another way of thinking about is: Does the misspelling change it into another name?
Thus: An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the Panthers’ assistant Coach. He is Jonathan Ndubisi, not Ndubisi.
But: Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the given name of the top-placing Nigerian in the combined event at the National Sports Festival. She is Lola Laye, not Damilola.
We don’t like using question words in corrections like “how many,” “who” or “where.” Instead, do this:
An earlier version of this article misstated the number of shots Victor Osimhen had. It was zero, not three.
An earlier version of this article misidentified the location of the game between the Panthers and Nordic. It was in Mbiatok, not Afaha Offiong.
An earlier version of this article misidentified the player who struck out in the first inning. It was Victor Elijah, not Solomon Ekemini.
It is expected that you behave in a professional manner when doing your job, including, and especially, when you are in the press box, locker room or other official team or league facilities. It is forbidden to drink alcohol or use drugs at an event that you are covering. Additionally, that professional behavior includes your use of social media.